At Heirlooms, we not only specialise in antique jewellery, we also buy objet d’art and gold.

We’ve recently acquired this incredible 9ct gold sovereign case which is sadly empty. However, the history of sovereigns is fascinating! Once an integral part of British currency, it is now forged as a commemorative coin and is often mounted in jewellery such as rings or pendants.

Sovereigns are always minted from 22ct gold which, of course, makes them incredibly valuable. The first one was minted in 1489 to honour the reign of Henry VII and had a value of 20 shillings. As befitting a coin called a sovereign, it was imprinted with a silhouette of the King with a Tudor Rose on the reverse.

When Queen Victoria reigned for 63 years, her image on the different sovereigns produced changed from that of a young girl through to a rather formidable and stern old lady.

Queen Elizabeth II was always shown facing to the right on sovereigns and her successor, King Charles III is now facing left, wearing the Tudor crown and features George and the Dragon on the reverse. The current value of a sovereign is approximately £300-£500, dependent on the year, condition and the gold price at the time.

Sovereigns hold their value well because of the gold content. So if you have been bequeathed a sovereign which has been passed down through the generations, you might want to check if it is one of the following as these are much sought after and valuable:

1489 The First Sovereign – because it’s the first!

1879 Victoria Young Head St George Sovereign – very rare

1937 Edward VIII Sovereign – only six exist

1989 Elizabeth II Gold Proof Sovereign – first Sovereign issued after Britain adopted the decimal system


Article originally published in Purbeck Gazette on October 2nd 2023